Danish four-piece, Tales Of Murder And Dust have been straddling the boundaries between orchestral psychedelia and experimental noise rock for thirteen years now. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Fragile Absolutes is as grandiose a statement of intent as they’ve unleashed at any point throughout their careers.
The long-awaited follow-up to 2016’s critically acclaimed second album The Flow In Between, Fragile Absolutes was recorded over a three-year period at numerous locations in and around the band’s native city of Aarhus and its barren outskirts along the north west of Denmark. It’s also the first Tales Of Murder And Dust record to be solely written by founder member Christian Sinding Sondergaard since the departure of co-writer, Kristoffer Vilsgaard in the interim period between albums.
A concept album of sorts, Fragile Absolutes is a brutally honest, semi-autobiographical affair that deals with human emotions fraught by isolation, apathy and self-righteousness. While the band’s line up has changed considerably since its predecessor, the foursome’s modus operandi remains the same.
Fragile Absolutes is a well-crafted beast that veers between brooding intensity and operatic elegance. At times it can be an uneasy listen, albeit from a thematic perspective. However, perseverance is key and the rewards significant when accomplished.
Having been a regular feature on the psych rock circuit since the band’s inception (and indeed, briefly signed to Fuzz Club) it’s to Tales Of Murder And Dust’s credit that they’ve never become formulaic or predictable. Structurally, their music has more in common with Swans or Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and it’s the latter’s gothic tendencies that rise to the fore here.
Opener, ‘Distances’ and the title track itself paint a bleak picture of despair from the outset which is only exaggerated by the intricate yet subdued ‘Crippled Figurines’. If the first half of the record acts as a build-up, the epic midpoint ‘Deconstructed And Dissolved’ applies the crescendo. Clocking in at just under eight and a half minutes, it represents Tales Of Murder And Dust at their most tantalizingly sombre.
From thereon in Fragile Absolutes is in a state of come down, probably best conveyed by the subjugating ‘Consoling Words’ before ‘Remnants’ brings the record to a close.
Fragile Absolutes is an album that demands to be heard in its entirety, and once locked inside, its despondent universe becomes increasingly difficult to let go.
Fragile Absolutes is out now via HPNG Records Collective.